In the safety guidelines on every airline, flight attendants tell us in the event of an emergency to attend to our own oxygen mask before helping others.
But in everyday life, how often do we give to others before giving to ourselves?
I’ve had a friend staying with me for a couple of days. She’s a mum and wife, just like me. Two young kids. And we’ve been spending a couple of days fossicking through little shops, having a lovely time.
But one of the most interesting conversations was one we had about buying for ourselves.
She admitted that she rarely buys for herself. When she goes shopping, she’ll spend money on her partner and her children, but not on herself.
I used to be the same. And my mother is the same. She’ll buy beautiful gifts for everyone in the family, but somehow feels guilty if she buys anything really nice for herself. She’ll buy clothes and lovely items for the grandkids, but never for herself. Cosmetics for me – I’m swimming in them already, but I always receive more – but nothing for herself.
And I remember how, when I was a kid, she’d always serve everyone before herself, and if any part of the meat or meal was burned or broken or damaged, she’d give that portion to herself. She got the poorer portion; we got the best bits.
Heal yourself first
We women in particular have been raised to do this.
We’re taught that we’re somehow not as worthy to receive stuff as good. If we pick out the best serving on the plate for ourselves we get frowned upon, but should a male do it nobody says anything.
Carry the whole thing further, and you can see how this relates to women being socialised to taking up less physical space, and the pressure on women to be small, petite, skinny, and the eating disorders so many suffer as a result.
I think there’s a lot of healing to be done, and it begins with cherishing ourselves as Goddess. Honouring the bodies we possess, accepting that we have value. That we have worth. That we deserve the best portion equally. That we deserve a fair share.
That we need to attend to our own oxygen mask first.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that healing can be found in buying ourselves stuff – quite the opposite – but that we need to see ourselves as worthy. And that we need to let go the guilt and say, yes, sometimes it’s okay to buy that expensive dress if we want it. Or have that serving of dessert.
Fix your own oxygen mask first. Take care of yourself first. If you don’t, who will?